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Climax Blues Band: Sample and Hold (remastered)

By 1983, much had changed in the world of the Climax Blues Band. Having just signed to a new record label, Virgin Records, founding member Derek Holt (bass/keyboards/vocals) left the band to start a solo career, and longtime drummer John Cuffley dropped out due to health problems. Not a great way to start up a new relationship with a major record label, but the band took it all in stride and brought in George Glover (keyboards), Dave Markee (bass) and Henry Spinetti (drums) to solidify the new line-up.

Featuring mostly songs penned by guitarist/vocalist Pete Haycock, as well as a few from outside writers, Sample and Hold is pretty indicative of the times, flush with synthesizers, pop hooks, and upbeat arrangements. "Friends in High Places", "Sign of the Times" and "Walking on Sunset" are the three rocking tunes that kick off the album, and they are enjoyable enough, filled with memorable hooks, lots of synths, and just enough Haycock guitar to make things interesting. "Shine" is catchy synth pop, not something you'd expect to hear from the CBB, but oddly enough it's not a bad song, and has some cool sax solos from Colin Cooper. The atmospheric "Movie Queen", a Cooper tune that also features his dramatic and smooth vocals, is one of the lone jazzy numbers here, and it's one of the highlights. Haycock's heavy rock piece "Heaven and Hell" is another standout on the album, filled with crunchy guitar riffs and commanding sax, and it's nice to hear the band rip it up on an album that's otherwise pretty slick and poppy. "Listen to the Night" is one of the songs that the band used from an outside writer (Graham Lyle), and it's a pretty bland mix of Caribbean styled music with some Mark Knopfler inspired guitar licks. The band go for some emotional gospel/ blues on "Doin' Alright", which includes some tasty organ from Glover and soaring sax courtesy of Cooper, and "I'm Ready", written by Andy Fraser (ex-Free) and Frankie Miller, is a decent enough bluesy pop rocker but nothing special. The Toto-ish "The End of the Seven Seas" closes out the album in fine fashion, a moody pop rocker with some atmospheric arrangements and a great Haycock vocal & guitar solo.

As a bonus, this reissue includes the non-album cut "Church", but it's mostly a forgettable funky blues-rock ditty highlighted by Cooper's lazy vocal and harmonica playing. Sample and Hold is nicely remastered by the folks at Repertoire Records, and comes housed in a nice digipack filled with photos and band info. This is one of the weaker CBB albums from the early '80s, but there are still a few good tunes here to recommend if you are just starting to get into the band.

Track Listing
1) Friends in High Places
2) Sign of the Times
3) Walking on Sunset
4) Shine
5) Movie Queen
6) Heaven and Hell
7) Listen to the Night
8) Doin' Alright
9) I'm Ready
10) The of the Seven Seas
11) Church (bonus track)

Added: March 12th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2121
Language: english

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